Review: The 12 Chinese Animals

  • July 25, 2010
  • James Skemp
  • review

This is a review of The 12 Chinese Animals, written by Master Zhongxian Wu.

Like everyone who’s been to a Chinese restaurant, I’m well aware of the 12 animals. Thanks to Philip K. Dick I’ve got a couple copies of the I Ching around the house, and enjoyed learning about the Asian philosophies during college.

This last aspect of me was pleasantly surprised reading through this short work, as the author does a good job of explaining that there are not only animals for the years one is born, but also for the month, day, and hour. This book touches on their meaning for three of these four, as the daily aspect is seemingly too complex. (Unfortunately, I didn’t really get a good idea of where to go if I wanted to find out more, making it hard for me to even call this an introductory work, and a simple search online didn’t turn up much either.)

I say the book touches upon their meaning because the latter part of the book, which consists of almost 80% of the volume, is basically the same couple of pages repeated, with very minor changes based on the animal. To me, it reads as a simple regurgitation of a formula. To be kinder, it would be hard not to do this, and they do have nice sections at the end containing a position and chant for meditation, and he speaks of the animals relationship to the I Ching.

All-in-all, though, unless you share this information with someone else, I have a hard time seeing anyone coming back to this more than once. For that reasoning I must give this book 3 stars of 5.

Because of his writing, if the first few chapters were expanded with more historical and philosophical information, I would feel better about giving this 4 stars.

I can’t be sure whether the physical product I have will be the same as the final product, but it seems fairly certain, so I’ll comment briefly on that.

The binding of this book seems extremely solid, and the printing is nice and crisp. The pages are nice and smooth, of a slightly thicker width than I would have expected. It’s definitely built to last.